The Authoritative Life of General William Booth

The Authoritative Life of General William Booth


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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Authoritative Life of General William Booth, by George Scott Railton
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Title: The Authoritative Life of General William Booth
Author: George Scott Railton
Release Date: November 4, 2004 [EBook #13958]
Language: English
Character set encoding: UTF-8
Produced by PG Distributed Proofreaders
William Booth
Born April 10th. 1829. Died August 20th, 1912.
Copyright, 1912, By George H. Doran Company
I have no hesitation in commending this small volume as containing so far as its space permits, a good picture of my beloved Father and a record of much that made his life of interest and importance to the world.
It does not, of course, profess to cover anything like the whole story of his many years of world-wide service. It could not do so. For any such complete history we must wait for that later production which may, I hope, be possible before very long when there has been time to go fully through the masses of diaries, letters and other papers he has left behind him.
It must not be supposed that I can make myself responsible for every phrase Commissioner Railton has used. I know, however, that perhaps no one except myself had anything like his opportunities, during the last forty years, of knowing and studying my Father's life, both in public and private, and of understanding his thoughts and purposes.
Nowwe wish this book to accomplish something.We cannot think it possible for anyone, especially a Salvationist, to read it without being compelled ever and anon to ask himself such questions as these:--
"Am I living a life that is at all like this life? Am I, at any rate, willing by God's grace to do anything I can in the same direction, in order that God may be more loved and glorified, and that my fellow men may be raised to a more God-like and happy service? After all, is there not something better for me than money-making, or the search after human applause, or indeed the pursuit of earthly good of any kind?
"If, instead of aiming at that which will all fade away, I turn my attention to making the best of my life for God and for others, may I not also accomplish something that will afford me satisfaction at last and bear reflection in the world to come?"
I hope also that to some, at least, the great message of this life will stand revealed in these pages. I believe it to be that, while God can do little or nothing by us until we are completely submitted and given up to Him, He can work wonders of infinite moment to the world when we are. Asked, a few months before his death, if he would put into a sentence the secret as he saw it, of all the blessings which had attended him during his seventy years of service, The General replied: "Well, if I am to put it into one sentence, I would say that I made up my mind that God Almighty should have all there was of William Booth." It was, in the beginning, that entire devotion to God and its continued maintenance which could, alone, account for the story told in these brief records.
The book is, of course, written in the main from the Salvationist point of view; much of it, indeed, is simply a reproduction of my father's own sayings and writings to his own people. This, to all thoughtful readers, must be our defence against any appearance of self-glorification, or any omission to refer to the work in the world that others are doing for Christ. No attempt has been made to tell the storyof The General's "life and times," but simplyto note some of the things he said and did
himself. And I trust the record may be found useful by all the many servants of God who do not think exactly as he thought, but who yet rejoiced in the triumphs of the Cross through his labours.
To continue and to amplify the results of his work must needs be my continual aim. I am full of hope that this book may bring me some help, not only towards his Memorial Scheme, which contemplates the erection and equipment in London and other Capitals of enlarged premises for the Training of Officers in every branch of the work, or where they already have such buildings, the erection of new Headquarters or Halls; but towards the maintenance and extension in every land of the work he began.
It cannot but be a special gratification to me to know that this book will be received with eager affection in almost every part of the world. How could it ever cease to be my greatest joy to strive more and more after my Father's ideal of linking together men and women of every land and race in one grand competition for the extinction of selfishness by the enlistment of all sorts and conditions of men in one Great Holy War for God and for all that is good?
Whether those into whose hands this volume falls, agree or not with the teachings of The Salvation Army, may God grant them Grace to join heartily at least in this, my Father's great purpose, and so help me to attain the victory for which he lived and died.
W. Bramwell Booth. London International Headquarters of The Salvation Army.
November, 1912.
I.Childhood and Poverty II.Salvation in Youth III.Lay Ministry IV.Early Ministry V.Fight Against Formality VI.Revivalism VII.East London Beginning VIII.Army-making IX.Army Leading X.Desperate Fighting XI.Reproducing The Army in America XII.In Australasia XIII.Women and Scandinavia XIV.Children Conquerors in Holland and Elsewhere XV.India and Devotees XVI.South Africa and Colonisation XVII.Japanese Heroism XVIII.Co-operating With Governments XIX.Conquering Death XX.His Social Work XXI.Motoring Triumphs XXII.Our Financial System XXIII.In Germany In Old Age XXIV.The End XXV.Tributes XXVI.Organisation XXVII.The Spirit of The Army XXVIII.The General as a Writer
Important Events Connected with The General's Life and Work
William Booth Catherine Booth General Bramwell Booth Mrs. Bramwell Booth Emma Booth Tucker Commander Miss Booth Autograph Page
William Booth was born in Nottingham, England, on April 10, 1829, and was left, at thirteen, the only son of a widowed and impoverished mother. His father had been one of those builders of houses who so rapidly rose in those days to wealth, but who, largely employing borrowed capital, often found themselves in any time of general scarcity reduced to poverty.
I glory in the fact that The General's ancestry has never been traced, so far as I know, beyond his grandfather. I will venture to say, however, that his forefathers fought with desperation against somebody at least a thousand years ago. Fighting is an inveterate habit of ours in England, and another renowned general has just been recommending all young men to learn to shoot. The constant joy and pride with which our General always spoke of his mother is a tribute to her excellence, as well as the best possible record of his own earliest days. Of her he wrote, in 1893:--
"I had a good mother. So good she has ever appeared to me that I have often said that all I knew of her life seemed a striking contradiction of the doctrine of human depravity. In my youth I fully accepted that doctrine, and I do not deny it now; but my patient, self-sacrificing mother always appeared to be an exception to the rule.
"I loved my mother. From infancy to manhood I lived in her. Home was not home to me without her. I do not remember any single act of wilful disobedience to her wishes. When my father died I was so passionately attached to my mother that I can recollect that, deeply though I felt his loss, my grief was all but forbidden by the thought that it was not my mother who had been taken from me. And yet one of the regrets that has followed me to the present hour is that I did not sufficiently value the treasure while I possessed it, and that I did not with sufficient tenderness and assiduity at the time, attempt the impossible task of repaying the immeasurable debt I owed to that mother's love.
"She was certainly one of the most unselfish beings it has been my lot to come into contact with. 'Never mind me' was descriptive of her whole life at every time, in every place, and under every circumstance. To make others happy was the end of all her thoughts and aims with regard not only to her children but to her domestics, and indeed to all who came within her influence. To remove misery was her delight. No beggar went empty-handed from her door. The sorrows of any poor wretch were certain of her commiseration, and of a helping hand in their removal, so far as she had ability. The children of misfortune were sure of her pity, and the children of misconduct she pitied almost the more, because, for one reason, they were the cause of sorrow to those who had reason to mourn on their account.
"For many years before she died, love, joy, and peace reigned in her heart, beamed from her countenance, and spoke in her words. Her faith was immovably fixed on Him who is able to save to the uttermost. It was a common expression of confidence with her that 'Jesus would go with her all the way through the journey of life--even to the end. He would not leave her. Her feet were on the Rock.'"
To this testimony to his mother's worth The General added:--
"To those whose eyes may fall on these lines, may I not be excused saying, 'See to it that you honour your father and your mother, not only that your days may be long in the land, but that you may not, in after years, be disturbed by useless longings to have back again the precious ones who so ceaselessly and unselfishly toiled with heart and brain for your profoundest well-being.'
"My mother and father were both Derbyshire people. They were born within a few miles of each other, the former at Somercotes, a small village within a mile or two of Alfreton and the latter at Belper. My mother's father was a well-to-do farmer. Her mother died when she was three years of age; and, her father marrying again, she was taken to the heart and home of a kind uncle and aunt, who reared and educated her, giving her at the same time a sound religious training.
"Years passed of which we have but imperfect knowledge during which, by some means, she drifted to the small town of Ashby-de-la-Zouch. Here she met my father, who was availing himself of the waters as a remedy for his chronic enemy, rheumatism. He offered her marriage. She refused. He left the town indignant, but returned to renew hisproposal, which she ultimatelyaccepted. Their marriage followed. Upto this date her
path through life had been comparatively a smooth one; but from this hour onward through many long and painful years, it was crowded with difficulties and anxieties.
"My father's fortunes appear to have begun to wane soon after his marriage. At that time he would have passed, I suppose, for a rich man, according to the estimate of riches in those days. But bad times came, and very bad times they were, such as we know little about, despite all the grumbling of this modern era. Nottingham, where the family was then located, suffered heavily, a large proportion of its poorer classes being reduced to the verge of starvation. My father, who had invested the entire savings of his lifetime in small house property, was seriously affected by these calamitous circumstances; in fact, he was ruined.
"The brave way in which my mother stood by his side during that dark and sorrowful season is indelibly written on my memory. She shared his every anxiety, advised him in all his business perplexities, and upheld his spirit as crash followed crash, and one piece of property after another went overboard. Years of heavy affliction followed, during which she was his tender, untiring nurse, comforting and upholding his spirit unto death; and then she stood out all alone to fight the battles of his children amidst the wreck of his fortunes.
"Those days were gloomy indeed; and the wonder now in looking back upon them is that she survived them. It would have seemed a perfectly natural thing if she had died of a broken heart, and been borne away to lie in my father's grave.
"But she had reasons for living. Her children bound her to earth, and for our sakes she toiled on with unswerving devotion and unintermitting care. After a time the waters found a smoother channel, so far as this world's troubles were concerned, and her days were ended, in her eighty-fifth year, in comparative peace."
"During one of my Motor Campaigns to Nottingham," The General wrote on another occasion, "my car took me over the Trent, the dear old river along whose banks I used to wander in my boyhood days, sometimes poring over Young'sNight Thoughts, reading Henry Kirke White'sPoems, or, as was frequently the case before my conversion, with a fishing-rod in my hand.
"In those days angling was my favourite sport. I have sat down on those banks many a summer morning at five o'clock, although I rarely caught anything. An old uncle ironically used to have a plate with a napkin on it ready for my catch waiting for me on my return.
"And then the motor brought us to the ancient village of Wilford, with its lovely old avenues of elms fringing the river.
"There were the very meadows in which we children used to revel amongst the bluebells and crocuses which, in those days, spread out their beautiful carpet in the spring-time, to the unspeakable delight of the youngsters from the town.
"But how changed the scene! Most of these rural charms had fled, and in their places were collieries and factories, and machine shops, and streets upon streets of houses for the employes of the growing town. We were only 60,000 in my boyhood, whereas the citizens of Nottingham to-day number 250,000.
"A few years ago the city conferred its freedom upon me as a mark of appreciation and esteem. To God be all the glory that He has helped His poor boy to live for Him, and made even his former enemies to honour him."
But we all know what sort of influences exist in a city that is at once the capital of a county and a commercial centre. The homes of the wealthy and comfortable are found at no great distance from the dwellings of the poor, while in the huge market-places are exhibitions weekly of all the contrasts between town and country life, between the extremest want and the most lavish plenty.
Seventy years ago, life in such a city was nearly as different from what it is to-day as the life of to-day in an American state capital is from that of a Chinese town. Between the small circle of "old families" who still possessed widespread influence and the masses of the people there was a wide gap. The few respectable charities, generally due to the piety of some long-departed citizen, marked out very strikingly a certain number of those who were considered "deserving poor," and helped to make every one less concerned about all the rest. For all the many thousands struggling day and night to keep themselves and those dependent upon them from starvation, there was little or no pity. It was just "their lot," and they were taught to consider it their duty to be content with it. To envy their richer neighbours, to covet anything they possessed, was a sin that would only ensure for the coveter an eternal and aggravated continuance of his present thirst.
In describing those early years, The General said:--
"Before my father's death I had been apprenticed by his wish. I was very young, only thirteen years of age, but he could not afford to keep me longer at school, and so out into the world I must go. This event was followed by the formation of companionships whose influence was anything but beneficial. I went down hill morally, and the consequences might have been serious if not eternally disastrous, but that the hand of God was laid on me in a very remarkable manner.
"I had scarcely any income as an apprentice, and was so hard up when my father died, that I could do next to nothing to assist my dear mother and sisters, which was the cause of no little humiliation and grief.
"The system of apprenticeship in those days generally bound a lad for six or seven years. During this time he received little or no wages, and was required to slave from early morning to late evening upon the supposition
that he was 'being taught' the business, which, if he had a good master, was probably true. It was a severe but useful time of learning. My master was a Unitarian--that is, he did not believe Christ was the son of God and the Saviour of the world, but only the best of teachers; yet so little had he learnt of Him that his heaven consisted in making money, strutting about with his gay wife, and regaling himself with worldly amusements.
"At nineteen the weary years of my apprenticeship came to an end. I had done my six years' service, and was heartily glad to be free from the humiliating bondage they had proved. I tried hard to find some kind of labour that would give me more liberty to carry out the aggressive ideas which I had by this time come to entertain as to saving the lost; but I failed. For twelve months I waited. Those months were among the most desolate of my life. No one took the slightest interest in me.
"Failing to find employment in Nottingham, I had to move away. I was loath, very loath, to leave my dear widowed mother and my native town, but I was compelled to do so, and to come to London. In the great city I felt myself unutterably alone. I did not know a soul excepting a brother-in-law, with whom I had not a particle of communion.
"In many respects my new master very closely resembled the old one. In one particular, however, he differed from him very materially, and that was he made a great profession of religion. He believed in the Divinity of Jesus Christ, and in the Church of which he was a member, but seemed to be utterly ignorant of either the theory or practice of experimental godliness. To the spiritual interests of the dead world around him he was as indifferent as were the vicious crowds themselves whom he so heartily despised. All he seemed to me to want was to make money, and all he seemed to want me for was to help him in the sordid selfish task.
"So it was work, work, work, morning, noon, and night. I was practically a white slave, being only allowed my liberty on Sundays, and an hour or two one night in the week, and even then the rule was 'Home by ten o'clock, or the door will be locked against you.' This law was rigidly enforced in my case, although my employer knew that I travelled long distances preaching the Gospel in which he and his wife professed so loudly to believe. To get home in time, many a Sunday night I have had to run long distances, after walking for miles, and preaching twice during the day."
The contrast between those days and ours can hardly be realised by any of us now. We may put down almost in figures some of the differences that steam and electricity have made, linking all mankind together more closely than Nottingham was then connected with London. But what words can convey any picture of the development of intelligence and sympathy that makes an occurrence in a London back street interest the reading inhabitants of Germany, America, and Australia as intense as those of our own country?
What a consolation it would have been to the apprentice lad, could he have known how all his daily drudgery was fitting him to understand, to comfort, and to help the toiling masses of every race and clime?
In the wonderful providence of God all these changes have been allowed to leave England in as dominating a position as she held when William Booth was born, if not to enhance her greatness and power, far as some may consider beyond what she deserved. And yet all the time, with or without our choice, our own activities, and even our faults and neglects, have been helping other peoples, some of them born on our soil, to become our rivals in everything. Happily the multiplication of plans of intercourse is now merging the whole human race so much into one community that one may hope yet to see the dawn of that fraternity of peoples which may end the present prospects of wars unparalleled in the past. How very much William Booth has contributed to bring that universal brotherhood about this book may suffice to hint.
In convincing him that goodness was the only safe passport to peace and prosperity of any lasting kind, William Booth's mother had happily laid in the heart of her boy the best foundation for a happy life, "Be good, William, and then all will be well," she had said to him over and over again.
But how was he to "be good"? The English National Church, eighty years ago, had reached a depth of cold formality and uselessness which can hardly be imagined now. Nowhere was this more manifest than in the "parish" church. The rich had their allotted pew, a sort of reserved seat, into which no stranger dare enter, deserted though it might be by its holders for months together. For the poor, seats were in some churches placed in the broad aisles or at the back of the pulpit, so conspicuously marking out the inferiority of all who sat in them as almost to serve as a notice to every one that the ideas of Jesus Christ had no place there. Even when an earnest clergyman came to any church, he had really a battle against great prejudices on both sides if he wished to make any of "the common people" feel welcome at "common prayer." But the way the appointed services were "gone through" was only too often such as to make every one look upon the whole matter as one which only concerned the clergy. Especially was this the effect on young people. Anything like interest, or pleasure, in those dull and dreary, not to say "vain" repetitions on their part must indeed have been rare.
It is not surprising then that William Booth saw nothing to attract him in the Church of his fathers. John Wesley, that giant
reformer of religion in England, had been dead some forty years, and his life-work had not been allowed to affect "the Church" very profoundly. His followers having seceded from it contrary to his orders and entreaties, had already made several sects, and in the chief of these William Booth presently found for himself at least a temporary home. Here the services were, to some extent, independent of books; earnest preaching of the truth was often heard from the pulpits, and some degree of real concern for the spiritual advancement of the people was manifested by the preachers.
Under this preaching and these influences, and the singing of Wesley's hymns, the lad was deeply moved. To his last days he sang some of those grand old songs as much as, if not more than, any others; that one, for example, containing the verse:--
And can I yet delay my little all to give? To tear my soul from earth away, for Jesus to receive? Nay, but I yield, I yield! I can hold out no more, I sink, by dying love compelled, and own Thee conqueror.
The mind that has never yet come in contact with teaching of this character can scarcely comprehend the effect of such thoughts on a young and ardent soul. This Jesus, who gave up Heaven and all that was bright and pleasant to devote Himself to the world's Salvation, was presented to him as coming to ask the surrender of his heart and life to His service, and his heart could not long resist the appeal. It was in no large congregation, however, but in one of the smaller Meetings that William Booth made the glorious sacrifice of himself which he had been made to understand was indispensable to real religion. Speaking some time ago, he thus described that great change:--
"When as a giddy youth of fifteen I was led to attend Wesley Chapel, Nottingham, I cannot recollect that any individual pressed me in the direction of personal surrender to God. I was wrought upon quite independently of human effort by the Holy Ghost, who created within me a great thirst for a new life.
"I felt that I wanted, in place of the life of self-indulgence, to which I was yielding myself, a happy, conscious sense that I was pleasing God, living right, and spending all my powers to get others into such a life. I saw that all this ought to be, and I decided that it should be. It is wonderful that I should have reached this decision in view of all the influences then around me. My professedly Christian master never uttered a word to indicate that he believed in anything he could not see, and many of my companions were worldly and sensual, some of them even vicious.
"Yet I had that instinctive belief in God which, in common with my fellow-creatures, I had brought into the world with me. I had no disposition to deny my instincts, which told me that if there was a God His laws ought to have my obedience and His interests my service.
"I felt that it was better to live right than to live wrong, and as to caring for the interests of others instead of my own, the condition of the suffering people around me, people with whom I had been so long familiar, and whose agony seemed to reach its climax about this time, undoubtedly affected me very deeply.
"There were children crying for bread to parents whose own distress was little less terrible to witness.
"One feeling specially forced itself upon me, and I can recollect it as distinctly as though it had transpired only yesterday, and that was the sense of the folly of spending my life in doing things for which I knew I must either repent or be punished in the days to come.
"In my anxiety to get into the right way, I joined the Methodist Church, and attended the Class Meetings, to sing and pray and speak with the rest." (A Class Meeting was the weekly muster of all members of the church, who were expected to tell their leader something of their soul's condition in answer to his inquiries.) "But all the time the inward Light revealed to me that I must not only renounce everything I knew to be sinful, but make restitution, so far as I had the ability, for any wrong I had done to others before I could find peace with God.
"The entrance to the Heavenly Kingdom was closed against me by an evil act of the past which required restitution. In a boyish trading affair I had managed to make a profit out of my companions, whilst giving them to suppose that what I did was all in the way of a generous fellowship. As a testimonial of their gratitude they had given me a silver pencil-case. Merely to return their gift would have been comparatively easy, but to confess the deception I had practised upon them was a humiliation to which for some days I could not bring myself.
"I remember, as if it were but yesterday, the spot in the corner of a room under the chapel, the hour, the resolution to end the matter, the rising up and rushing forth, the finding of the young fellow I had chiefly wronged, the acknowledgment of my sin, the return of the pencil-case--the instant rolling away from my heart of the guilty burden, the peace that came in its place, and the going forth to serve my God and my generation from that hour.
"It was in the open street that this great change passed over me, and if I could only have possessed the flagstone on which I stood at that happy moment, the sight of it occasionally might have been as useful to me as the stones carried up long ago from the bed of the Jordan were to the Israelites who had passed over them dry-shod.
"Since that night, for it was near upon eleven o'clock when the happy change was realised, the business of my life has been not only to make a holy character but to live a life of loving activity in the service of God and man. I have ever felt that true religion consists not onlyin beingholymyself,but in assistingmyCrucified Lord in His
work of saving men and women, making them into His Soldiers, keeping them faithful to death, and so getting them into Heaven.
"I have had to encounter all sorts of difficulties as I have travelled along this road. The world has been against me, sometimes very intensely, and often very stupidly. I have had difficulties similar to those of other men, with my own bodily appetites, with my mental disposition, and with my natural unbelief.
"Many people, both religious and irreligious, are apt to think that they are more unfavourably constituted than their comrades and neighbours, and that their circumstances and surroundings are peculiarly unfriendly to the discharge of the duties they owe to God and man.
"I have been no exception in this matter. Many a time I have been tempted to say to myself, 'There is no one fixed so awkwardly for holy living and faithful fighting as I am.' But I have been encouraged to resist the delusion by remembering the words of the Apostle Paul: 'There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man.'
"I am not pretending to say that I have worked harder, or practised more self-denial, or endured more hardships at any particular time of my life than have those around me; but I do want those who feel any interest in me to understand that faithfulness to God in the discharge of duty and the maintenance of a good conscience have cost me as severe a struggle as they can cost any Salvation Soldier in London, Berlin, Paris, New York, or Tokio to-day.
"One reason for the victory I daily gained from the moment of my conversion was, no doubt, my complete and immediate separation from the godless world. I turned my back on it. I gave it up, having made up my mind beforehand that if I did go in for God I would do so with all my might. Rather than yearning for the world's pleasures, books, gains, or recreations, I found my new nature leading me to come away from it all. It had lost all charm for me. What were all the novels, even those of Sir Walter Scott or Fenimore Cooper, compared with the story of my Saviour? What were the choicest orators compared with Paul? What was the hope of money-earning, even with all my desire to help my poor mother and sisters, in comparison with the imperishable wealth of ingathered souls? I soon began to despise everything the world had to offer me.
"In those days I felt, as I believe many Converts do, that I could willingly and joyfully travel to the ends of the earth for Jesus Christ, and suffer anything imaginable to help the souls of other men. Jesus Christ had baptised me, according to His eternal promise, with His Spirit and with Fire.
"Yet the surroundings of my early life were all in opposition to this whole-hearted devotion. No one at first took me by the hand and urged me forward, or gave me any instruction or hint likely to help me in the difficulties I had at once to encounter in my consecration to this service."
This clear experience and teaching of an absolutely new life, that "eternal life" which Jesus Christ promises to all His true followers, is indispensable to the right understanding of everything in connexion with the career we are recording. Without such an experience nothing of what follows could have been possible. With it the continual resistance to every contrary teaching and influence, and the strenuous struggle by all possible means to propagate it are inevitable.
One is amazed at this time of day, to find intelligent men writing as though there were some mysticism, or something quite beyond ordinary understanding, in this theory of conversion, or regeneration.
Precisely the process which The General thus describes in his own case must of necessity follow any thoughtful and prayerful consideration of the mission and Gospel of Christ. Either we must reject the whole Bible story or we must admit that "all we like sheep have gone astray," taking our own course, in contempt of God's wishes. To be convinced of that must plunge any soul into just such a depth of sorrow and anxiety as left this lad no rest until he had found peace in submission to his God. No outside influences or appearances can either produce or be substituted for the deep, inward resolve of the wandering soul, "I will arise, and go to my Father." Whether that decision be come to in some crowded Meeting, or in the loneliness of some midnight hour is quite unimportant. But how can there be true repentance, or the beginning of reconciliation with God, until that point is reached?
And whenever that returning to God takes place, there is the same abundant pardon, the same change of heart, the same new birth, which has here been described. What can be more simple and matter of fact? Take away the need and possibility of such "conversion," and this whole life becomes a delusion, and the proclamation of Jesus Christ as a Saviour of men inexcusable. What has created any mystery around the question amongst Christians, if not the sacramental theory, which more or less contradicts it all? In almost all Christian Churches a theory is set up that a baby by some ceremonial act becomes suddenly regenerated, "made a child of God, and an heir of His Kingdom."
If that were the case, there could, of course, have been no need for the later regeneration of that child; but I do not believe that an ecclesiastic could be found, from the Vatican to the most remote island-parish where children are "christened," who would profess to have seen such a regenerated child alive. There is notoriously no such change accomplished in any one, until the individual himself, convinced of his own godless condition, cries to God for His Salvation, and receives that great gift.
What a foundation for life was the certainty which that lad got as he knelt in that little room in Nottingham! Into that same "full assurance" he was later on to lead many millions--young and old--of many lands. The simple Army verse:--
I know thysins are all forgiven,
 Glory to the Bleeding Lamb! And I am on my way to Heaven,  Glory to the Bleeding Lamb!
embalms for ever that grand starting-point of the soul, from which our people have been able, in ignorance of almost everything else of Divine truth, to commence a career of holy living, and of loving effort for the souls of others.
How much more weight those few words carry than the most eloquent address bereft of that certainty of tone could ever have!
That certainty which rests not upon any study of books, even of the Bible itself, but upon the soul's own believing vision of the Lamb of God who has taken its sins away; that certainty which changes in a moment the prison darkness of the sin-chained into the light and joy and power of the liberated slave of Christ; that is the great conquest of the Salvation Soldier everywhere.
And yet, perhaps, in the eyes of an unbelieving world, and a doubting Church, that was General Booth's great offence all through life. To think of having uneducated and formerly godless people "bawling" the "mysteries of the faith" through the streets of "Christian" cities, where it had hitherto been thought inconsistent with Christian humility for any one to dare to say they really knew Him "whom to know is life eternal"! Oh, that was the root objection to all The General's preaching and action.
And it was one of the most valuable features of his whole career that wherever he or his messengers went there came that same certainty which from the days of Bethlehem onwards Jesus Christ came to bring to every man.
"By faith we know!" If every outward manifestation of The General's successes could be swept off the world to-morrow, this positive faith in the one Saviour would be capable of reproducing all its blessed results over again, wherever it was preserved, or renewed. Any so-called faith which gives no certainty must needs be hustled out of the way of an investigating, hurrying, wealth-seeking age. Only those who are certain that they have found the Lord can be capable of inducing others to seek and find Him.
Convictions such as we have just been reading of were bound to lead to immediate action. But it is most interesting to find that William Booth's first regular service for Christ was not called forth by any church, but simply by the spontaneous efforts of one or two young Converts like himself. No one could be more inclined towards the use of organisation and system than he always was, and yet he always advocated an organisation so open to all, and a system so elastic, that zeal might never be repressed, but only made the most of. It is, perhaps, fortunate that we have in one of his addresses to his own young Officers the following description of the way he began to work for the Salvation of his fellow-townsmen:--
"Directly after my conversion I had a bad attack of fever, and was brought to the very edge of the grave. But God raised me up, and led me out to work for Him, after a fashion which, considering my youth and inexperience, must be pronounced remarkable. While recovering from this illness, which left me far from strong, I received a note from a companion, Will Sansom, asking me to make haste and get well again, and help him in a Mission he had started in a slum part of the town. No sooner was I able to get about than I gladly joined him.
"The Meetings we held were very remarkable for those days. We used to take out a chair into the street, and one of us mounting it would give out a hymn, which we then sang with the help of, at the most, three or four people. Then I would talk to the people, and invite them to come with us to a Meeting in one of the houses.
"How I worked in those days! Remember that I was only an apprentice lad of fifteen or sixteen. I used to leave business at 7 o'clock, or soon after, and go visiting the sick, then these street Meetings, and afterwards to some Meeting in a cottage, where we would often get some one saved. After the Meeting I would often go to see some dying person, arriving home about midnight to rest all I could before rising next morning in time to reach my place of business at 7 A.M. That was sharp exercise! How I can remember rushing along the streets during my forty minutes' dinner-time, reading the Bible or C. G. Finney'sLectures on Revivals of Religionas I went, careful, too, not to be a minute late. And at this time I was far from strong physically; but full of difficulties as those days were, they were nevertheless wonderful seasons of blessing, and left pleasant memories that endure to this hour.
"The leading men of the church to which I belonged were afraid I was going too fast, and gave me plenty of cautions, quaking and fearing at my every new departure; but none gave me a word of encouragement. And yet the Society of which for those six apprentice years I was a faithful member, was literally my heaven on earth. Truly, I thought then there was one God, that John Wesley was His prophet, and that the Methodists were His special people. The church was at the time, I believe, one thousand members strong. Much as I
loved them, however, I mingled but little with them, and had time for but few of their great gatherings, having chosen the Meadow Platts as my parish, because my heart then as now went out after the poorest of the poor.
"Thus my conversion made me, in a moment, a preacher of the Gospel. The idea never dawned on me that any line was to be drawn between one who had nothing else to do but preach and a saved apprentice lad who only wanted 'to spread through all the earth abroad,' as we used to sing, the fame of our Saviour. I have lived, thank God, to witness the separation between layman and cleric become more and more obscured, and to see Jesus Christ's idea of changing in a moment ignorant fishermen into fishers of men nearer and nearer realisation.
"But I had to battle for ten of the best years of my youth against the barriers the Churches set up to prevent this natural following of the Lamb wherever He leads. At that time they all but compelled those who wished to minister to the souls of men to speak in unnatural language and tones, and adopt habits of mind and life which so completely separated them from the crowd as to make them into a sort of princely caste, whom the masses of every clime outwardly reverenced and inwardly despised.
"Lad though I was, a group of new Converts and other earnest souls soon gathered around me, and greater things seemed to be ahead when a great trial overtook me. The bosom friend already referred to was taken from my side. We had been like David and Jonathan in the intensity of our union and fellowship in our work for God. He had a fine appearance, was a beautiful singer, and possessed a wonderful gift in prayer. After I had spoken in our Open-Air Meeting he would kneel down and wrestle with God until it seemed as though he would move the very stones on which he knelt, as well as the hearts of the people who heard him. Of how few of those men called ministers or priests can anything like this be said!
"But the unexpected blow came. He fell into consumption. His relations carried him up and down the country for change of air and scene. All was done that could be done to save his life, but in vain. The last change was to the Isle of Wight. In that lovely spot the final hope fled. I remember their bringing him home to die. He bade farewell to earth, and went triumphantly to Heaven singing--
And when to Jordan's flood I come,  Jehovah rules the tide,  And the waters He'll divide, And the heavenly host will shout-- "Welcome Home!"
"What a trial that loss was to my young heart! It was rendered all the greater from the fact that I had to go forward all alone in face of an opposition which suddenly sprang up from the leading functionaries of the church."
The consecration which William Booth made of himself to this work, with all the zeal and novelty with which it was characterised, was due, no doubt, to the teaching, influence, and example of James Caughey, a remarkable American minister who visited the town. Largely free from European opinions and customs in religious matters, and seeking only to advance the cause of Jesus Christ with all possible speed, this man to a very large extent liberated William Booth for life from any one set of plans, and led him towards that perfect faith in God's guidance which made him capable of new departures to any extent.
The old-fashioned representatives of officialdom grumbled in vain at novelties which have now become accepted necessities of all mission work.
"But just about this time," The General has told us, "another difficulty started across my path in connexion with my business. I have told you how intense had been the action of my conscience before my conversion. But after my conversion it was naturally ever increasingly sensitive to every question of right and wrong, with a great preponderance as to the importance of what was right over what was wrong. Ever since that day it has led me to measure my own actions, and judge my own character by the standard of truth set up in my soul by the Bible and the Holy Ghost; and it has not permitted me to allow myself in the doing of things which I have felt were wrong without great inward torture. I have always had a great horror of hypocrisy--that is, of being unreal or false, however fashionable the cursed thing might be, or whatever worldly temptation might strive to lead me on to the track. In this I was tested again and again in those early days, and at last there came a crisis.
"Our business was a large one and the assistants were none too many. On Saturdays there was always great pressure. Work often continued into the early hours of Sunday. Now I had strong notions in my youth and for long after--indeed, I entertain them now--about the great importance of keeping the Sunday, or Sabbath as we always called it, clear of unnecessary work.
"For instance, I walked in my young days thousands of miles on the Sabbath, when I could for a trifling sum have ridden at ease, rather than use any compulsory labour of man or beast for the promotion of my comfort. I still think we ought to abstain from all unnecessary work ourselves, and, as far as possible, arrange for everybody about us to have one day's rest in seven. But, as I was saying, I objected to working at my business on the Sabbath, which I interpreted to mean after twelve o'clock on Saturday night. My relatives and many of my religious friends laughed at my scruples; but I paid no heed to them, and told my master I would not do it, though he replied that if that were so he would simply discharge me. I told him I was willing to begin on Monday morning as soon as the clock struck twelve, and work until the clock struck twelve on Saturday night, but that not one hour or one minute of Sunday would I work for him or all his money.
"He kept his word, put me into the street, and I was laughed at by everybody as a sort of fool. But I held out, and within seven days he gave in, and, thinking my scrupulous conscience might serve his turn he told me to come back again. I did so, and before another fortnight had passed he went off with his young wife to Paris, leaving the responsibilities of a business involving the income and expenditure of hundreds of pounds weekly on my young shoulders.
"So I did not lose by that transaction in any way. With no little suffering on four separate occasions, contrary to the judgments of all around me, I have thus left every friend I had in the world, and gone straight into what appeared positive ruin, so far as this world was concerned, to meet the demands of conscience. But I have trusted God, and done the right, and in every separate instance I can now see that I have gained both for this world and the next as the result.
"During all the period of my lay preaching, both in Nottingham and London, I had to grapple with other difficulties. What with one thing and another I had a great struggle at times to keep my head above the waters, and my heart alive with peace and love. But I held on to God and His grace, and the never-failing joy that I experienced in leading souls to Christ carried me through."
How can anybody fail to see how much more the masses are likely to be influenced by the preaching, no matter how defective oratorically, of one who has thus lived in the midst of them--living, in fact, their very life of anxiety, suffering, and toil--than by that of men, however excellent, who come to them with the atmosphere of the study, the college, or the seminary?
And yet, after having been trained for a year in the rough-and-ready oratory of the streets, subject to interruptions and interjected sneers, The General was called upon, in order to be recognised as fit for registration as a lay preacher, to mount the pulpit and preach a "trial sermon"! Accustomed as he had become to talk out his heart with such words and illustrations as involuntarily presented themselves to the simple-minded, though often wicked and always ignorant crowds, who gathered around the chair on which he stood; able without difficulty to hold their attention when he had won it, and drive the truth home to their souls, in spite of the counter-attractions of a busy thoroughfare, he took very hardly to the stiff, cold process of sermonising and sermon-making such as was then in vogue, and it was some time before he had much liberty or made much progress in the business.
Still, in due time he was passed, first as a lay "preacher on trial," and later called as fully qualified to preach at any chapel in the district--this latter after a second year's activities and a "second trial sermon."
When he once got on to this sermon-making line he took the best models he could find--men like John Wesley, George Whitefield, and, above all, C. G. Finney, who he could be certain had never sought in their preaching for human applause, but for the glory of God and the good of souls alone.
In the Psalms, as in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, we have the most unmistakable guidance upon this subject, showing it to have been God's purpose so to pour out His Spirit upon all flesh that all His people should be true prophets--not all, of course, of the same calibre or style, but all capable of warning and teaching, in all wisdom, every one whom they could reach.
The work of the ministry is another thing altogether. Let no one suppose that The Salvation Army at all underrates the "separation" unto His work of those whom God has chosen for entire devotion to some task, whatever it be. As to those whom we take away from their secular calling to become our Officers, I will only say here that we judge of their fitness not alone by their ability to speak, but by their having proved themselves to be so devoted to the poor that we can rely upon their readiness to act as servants of the very neediest in any way that lies within their power. Only two persons at each of our Stations, the Officers actually in command, receive any payment whatever from The Army. All the others associated with us, many of them wearing our uniform and holding some particular office, give freely their leisure-time and money to the work, and may be spoken of as "lay preachers."
Our young "local preacher" generally spent his Sundays in some distant village where he had been appointed to preach, just as is the case in these days with thousands of our Soldiers.
"My homeward walk, often alone through the dark, muddy fields and lanes," he tells us, "would be enlivened by snatches of the songs we had been singing in our Meetings, and late into the night people might have heard my solitary prayers and praises. 'Don't sit up singing till twelve o'clock after a hard day's work,' was one of the first needed pieces of practical advice I got from my best adviser of later years."
"But we never felt we could have too much of God's service and praise, and scarcely regarded the grave itself as a terminus for our usefulness; for in the case of a girl who had attended our Cottage Meetings, and who had died of consumption, we lads organised something very like one of our present-day Salvation Army Funerals.
"Having ministered to the poor girl's necessities during her sickness, comforted her in her last hours of pain, sung hymns of triumph round her bed as her spirit took its passage to the skies, we had the right, as her only friends, to order her funeral, and we resolved to make the most of it for the good of her neighbours.
"Although it was in the depth of winter, and snow lay thick on the ground, we brought the coffin out into the street, sang and prayed around it, and urged the few neighbours who stood shivering by, or listening at their doors and windows, to prepare for their dying day. We then processioned to the Cholera Burial Ground, as the cemeteryin which thepoorest of Nottingham were buried was called, obtainingpermission from the